Did you ever have a childhood dream; like something you wished to become when you grow up? Yeah, so what about it now? Did it fly away with the wind or did you just grow out of it like you did the shorts you wore those days?
Well for me, my childhood dream has become me. Somehow I know that the past me will truly thank the present me for keeping the promise. Not that I have completely attained though, but I know for sure that I am on track.
Like most of us, Neftaly Malatjie had a big dream; a dream to help other young people achieve their dreams. A truly selfless dream that has grown into something great. His passion for youth and social development has been surely unwavering.
Born in 1991 in the rural community of Tzaneen in Limpopo province, Neftaly started his social development work at the early age of 11, working with an organisation called AKANI, a childcare and support group for children.
A few years later, he left the organisation and with the little money he saved, he started Diepsloot Youth Arts and Culture; a project focused on teaching dance and drama to local youngsters, most of whom were school dropouts, unemployed youths, and children with learning challenges.
Soon the organisation expanded to accommodate more young people, and also included trainings and several skill acquisition programmes like, pottery, craftwork academies entrepreneurship training, sewing and interior design workshops, capacity building, career counseling, accredited computer training and community other outreach programmes. That was how Diepsloot Youth Project (DYP) was born.
About DYP the young innovator says; “We’re a non-profit organisation that’s mainly focused on awareness, capacity-building and training.”
At just 23, Neftaly has brought hope to Diepsloot; an underprivileged and poverty stricken community in Johannesburg, South Africa. And to the youths of Africa, he has become a role model.
As the Founder and CEO of Diepsloot Youth Projects, he has been at the fore front, empowering young people in the townships to become responsible citizens, by providing them with information, support and skills that lead to their empowerment and employment.
Diepsloot Youth Projects (DYP) serves as an outreach programme to those stricken by poverty, and harassed by the difficulties of life. To put it simply, the organisation is dedicated to finding solutions for South Africa’s youth.
Neftaly has also worked as a preschool teacher, peer educator, library assistant, HIV/Aids counselor, drugs awareness and prevention teacher, learning and development advisor and afternoon care coordinator.
The young CEO remains hopeful, he believes strongly that his efforts will yield great fruits soon and that the youngsters of Diepsloot will be known in Africa as world changers.
“We are changing stones into self-moving assets, I want people to have success stories, and would like it if one day people say that that organisation made them who they are.” He says
Interestingly, Neftaly enjoys what he does; he delights in giving hope to other young people and watching step into greatness. This reminds me of what a writer once said, “It is in sacrificing our lives for others that we truly live.”
With many achievements under his belt to acknowledge his role and contribution in helping to develop the youth and community of Diepsloot, Neftaly remains humble and always willing to help.
The budding youth leader is the Winner of the Shoprite Network Awards (2009), nominee for the Naledi Theatre Awards on the Best Performance Play (2010). He was also selected for the award winning Old Mutual Legends business support programme (2012), and was nominated for the 2010 ICC Young Community Shaper and Jet Community Builder of the year.
In 2013 he was selected as one of the finalists for the Anzisha prize and just recently, he received R200,000 award from Rand Water Foundation.
“I enjoy working with young people, I believe that they are the future and for that reason they need all the help and motivation they can get. It motivates me to see my work contributing to someone else’s success, and that keeps me going. It is the positive results we see in the lives of the young people because of this organisation that motivates us to continue helping the youth,” he declares.
Most times young people complain about the failings and ineptitude of their societies, they moan over almost everything, but they forget the real truth; they are the change they hope to see. Things will never get better until someone takes the initiative to bring about change.
Like Neftaly, I ask, if you do not revolutionize your community, who will? Brighten the corner where you are!!!